Family Fun Guide

Things to Do With Kids: Let Off Steam

Exactly where to cool off in that hot summer heat.

By Ilene Denton May 2, 2016 Published in the May 2016 issue of Sarasota Magazine

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Image: Chad Spencer

The Sarasota Y’s Water Park

The Evalyn Sadlier Jones water park’s big, shallow swimming pool, water slide and water cannons are a hit with the little ones. Admission, $7; still free for Y members, of course, and children 3 and under. (941) 922-9622;

Children’s Fountain at Bayfront Park

No swimming here, but the water jets are fun, and kids can climb all over the giant fiberglass animals.

Robert L. Taylor Community Complex Aquatic Center

This facility in north Sarasota has a nifty family pool and splash pad.

Sun N’ Fun

An Olympic-sized pool, kids splash pool, barbecue grills, mini golf and disc golf, and even dive-in movies are all yours to enjoy with a summer family fun pass to this mammoth RV resort just east of I-75 off Fruitville Road. You can buy a day pass, too, from May through Labor Day. (800) 843-2421;


Bradenton Riverwalk Family Fun Zone & Splash Pad

The colorful splash pad and playground at this 1.5-mile linear park that borders the Manatee River is super popular. Open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. No age limit, no cost.


An oldie-but-goodie family outing that always leaves everyone happy, and Sarasota has two nice options: Smuggler’s Cove Adventure Golf on North Tamiami Trail (941-351-6620; and Evie’s Family Golf Center on Bee Ridge Road just west of I-75 (941-377-0990;


Climb, glide, scramble and zipline through dozens of wild and crazy treetop obstacles at this 14-acre adventure park in east Manatee County. Different courses depending on your age and “reach height,” and parents are welcome to watch from the ground at no charge. Not for the faint of heart, but don’t be intimidated; we’ve talked to grandparents who enthusiastically recommend it. (941) 322-2130;

Bradenton Marauders Summer Baseball

You can only watch so much baseball on TV without itching to catch a game. The Bradenton Marauders, the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, sponsors a different fun (and often goofy) promotion every night; Star Wars Night on July 22, for example, will have guest appearances by you-know-who, and on Sundays kids 12 and under can run the bases after each game. (941) 747-3031;

Bounce Down Under

For those inevitable rainy summer days, this 11,000-square-foot facility has a giant inflatable play area where kids can bounce out their pent-up energy. A popular birthday party spot, but walk-ins are welcome any time, and there’s even a “Jumpin’ Joeys” section for toddlers. (941) 366-0123;

Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex

Whether you roll or glide, skating can keep you cool this summer. The Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex offers public sessions daily for all levels of skating abilities; regular admission $10, with children 2 and under free. Skate rentals $5 per person. (941) 723-3663, ellenton

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